Straight from the dark heart of Italy
WEEKEND RESULTS Saturday Oct 31: Juventus 2-3 Napoli, AC Milan 2-0 Parma. Sunday Nov 1: Cagliari 3-0 Atalanta, Chievo 1-1 Udinese, Fiorentina 3-1 Catania, Livorno 0-2 Inter Milan, Roma 2-1 Bologna, Sampdoria 0-0 Bari, Siena 1-1 Lazio, Palermo 0-0 Genoa. Details here
Marco Borriello has the easy-going smile and good looks more suited to the catwalk than walking line with the toughest of Serie A defenders.
Only a nick of a scar above his eye gives it away that he does anything more taxing than checking out his look in the mirror.
In fact for a while the AC Milan striker was dragged into the D-list hell of going out with a topless model turned actress of sorts – Belen Rodriguez.
The Argentine lovely was will to take the rap for her man when he failed a drugs test, claiming that the cortisone detected in his system came from a cream she rubbed into him before an intimate moment.
It was a match made in tabloid heaven, but after her alleged dalliance with a fellow cast member on the Castaway reality show, the big Neapolitan did what any of his fellow southern citizens would have done - and dumped her.
It looked for a while that Marco’s professional life would go the same way as his personal adventures – down the tube.
There was a stage when it seemed that at the age of 26 he may have to limp away from the game as a routine tendon injury developed into something more chronic.
This all came after a 19-goal season at Genoa, a move back to Milan, a bright future as Luca Toni’s heir in the national side, and the arrival of the master assist-man Ronaldinho.
With seemingly no end in sight on the injury front, the Rossoneri turned to Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to provide the power in attack – something the Dutchman has been unable to produce so far.
So Saturday finally brought Borriello back into the spotlight as he netted both goals for Milan – the second an acrobatic scissor-kick - in the win over Parma.
There had been glimpses that he was on the way back during his, erm, positive 20-minute cameo at Real Madrid - and after the weekend’s exploits it seems likely Leonardo will start him against the Spaniards on Tuesday.
Marcello Lippi will name his squad next weekend for the high-profile friendly with Holland and hopefully Marco’s good form will be rewarded.
Also making a comeback at the weekend were Napoli.
Having somehow clawed their way back from 2-0 down against Milan in midweek to draw 2-2 with two goals in added time, the Neapolitans went one better in Turin for their first win at Juventus in 21 years.
Walter Mazzarri has certainly instilled a raw, never-say-die spirit compared to Roberto Donadoni’s more refined but soft approach.
On top of that, the new mister has ensured that all his chief operators can play in harmony by throwing four across the midfield in tight formation and giving Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik the freedom to roam further forward in support of a lone striker.
Hamsik scored twice in Turin and substitute Jesus Datolo rose from the footballing dead under Donadoni to set them up and score the other.
Of course, the defence is still as creaky as an old shed door and goals are going to continue to flow at both ends – at least it makes for plenty of entertainment.
For their part, Juve may have put five past Sampdoria on Wednesday but they cannot find how to incorporate Diego into the game-plan.
The Brazilian wants the ball but in doing so he slows up play and ends up back alongside Felipe Melo - who at times looks as if he is on the Copacabana knocking the ball around with his mates.
Diego was a big-money signing, but it may be time to keep him on the bench for a few games and employ his skill as an impact substitute.
Although judging by the way the playmaker seemed to be complaining widely during training yesterday, that may not be an easy move by Ciro Ferrara.
When your most impressive player all evening has to come off after 20 minutes (Mauro Camoranesi) then you know you something isn’t functioning.
In this case - the need to get back to the physical, hard-running game of old and getting crosses into the area for two front men.
Italian football has been robust of late and Camoranesi was forced off the pitch after receiving an elbow to the side of the head from Matteo Contini.
It’s no wonder more and more players are wearing gum shields - and if the arms keep flailing, it will be head guards as well.
Jose Mourinho has headaches of his own as he prepares for Inter's game of the season (so far) in Kyiv.
Not only are Sulley Muntari, Thiago Motta and Wesley Sneijder injured, Mario Balotelli has flu (although fortunately not the swine variant which is sweeping through Ukraine).
At least the Nerazzurri have a healthy seven-point lead at home and facing a few sniffles out east is probably preferable to be awaken by the blast of a paper-bomb.
The AS Roma players were given a shock when a home-made device went off at their training ground.
Maybe it helped shake them out of their recent inertia, although it was still a laboured win over Bologna.
Just when we thought Antonio Cassano had become a little angel, up popped the devil on his shoulder to berate Sampdoria fans who had the temerity to jeer the wayward genius.
A section of the Bluerchiati crowd did not take too kindly to Fantantonio’s lacklustre display in the 5-1 mauling at Juventus, or his softly-softly approach in the goalless draw with his former club Bari on Sunday.
“If I am not welcome then I’ll go,” he warned. “Some of them have gotten used to eating chocolate but sometimes they need to nibble some ****.”
Sweetly put indeed, but bound to leave a bitter taste in the mouth of Samp fans – maybe the Bari big mouth is not ready to temper his wayward ways just yet.
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